- Because German grammar is highly structured, punchlines often can't be put at the end of the sentence as in english
- In German, there are less puns or wordplay because German uses compound words which reduces double meanings of a word.
- According to Richard Wiseman's LaughLab, Germans actually laughed at the most jokes when they did a query on the world's funniest joke.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Vecna's Extrodinary Role-playing Game Engine.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
I have never been one for online social networking sites. My god how many are there? Wikipedia currently lists 106 social networking sites. I don’t know how many invitations I received to join Bebo, Facebook, Friendster, Orkut and the ever ubiquitous Facebook.
The never appealed to me because they seemed to insular - you post a pictures of yourself, maybe a blog and shout out to your online friends. The operative word being online. The fact is, even though my life revolves around being online and computer application development, I don’t want anything that will glue my arse further to this seat than I am.
However, I’ll make an exception for one site - Couch Surfing. Yes, there are some extremely fanatical people about this website, but truth be told, I have met some of the most amazing people. Yes, this website is about to get an unabashed plug from me
Couch surfing is a hospitality site - that is, if someone from another country is visiting you, why not offer them a beer, coffee and perhaps a place to stay for a couple nights? Its up to you how generous you want to be with place and time. Truth be told its not for everyone, but if you have an open heart and open mind you can open doorways to some incredible experiences! I basicially travelled around Europe this June - September meeting couch surfers. The worlds that open up when you accept other peoples hospitality is amazing!
This is what I think sets its apart from those other 100+ social network sites, Couch Surfing actually encourages you to get offline and meet new people!
Incidentally, I came across the site quite by accident. I am fan of Montreal band Branvan3000 and wanted to look up lyrics for their couch surfing song. This song actually inspired the name of the hospitality. And I even met my current girlfriend through couchsurfing… well here’s to serendipity!
I’ve been gone for several months now, but I hope to get a few more posts in the blog going. I decided to quickly post here something I’ve been interested in quite some time: computer game programming. I thought would write a bit about my favourite resources (aside from Google) for programming computer games:
- Gamasutra - Game Industry Portal. Find out the latest news for Game Industry. Countless resources for gaming industries including news, gaming jobs, and computer game education.
- Generation 5 - Artificial intelligence Portal - contains articles, interviews, a glossary. As stated on their website: Generation5 aims to be the most comprehensive Artificial Intelligence site on the Internet. Community-orientated, Generation5 deals with all AI topics including robotics, neural networks, genetic algorithms, AI programming, home automation and much more.
- Game Development Search Engine - The site seems to had the ‘ob_gzhandler’ error in its header forever, but despite this, the site is pretty good resource for Game Developement, tutorials and other resources.
- Quandary Computer Game Reviews - A pretty comprehensive site of reviews for nearly every computer game that you can think of.
- RPG Portal - Another comprehensive online portal and community - but this exclusively dedicated to computer Role Playing Games.
- DCEmu Console Gaming Portal - the very latest news, downloads, reviews, previews and much more from every console and its gaming, homebrew and emulation scene.
- Games Discovery Portal - Though the site is plagued with adverts - it has some very good information about game programming - in particular the ‘Game Ideas’ forum - if you are looking to get inspired for new ideas, might pay to visit that section.
- Devmaster Game Development Portal - This is one I frequent often - this is a vast resource of articles, engine databases, and much more. Has a strong community and addictive.
- Gamedev.net Game Programming Portal - This is possible best online portal that I’ve found. With over 130,000 pages indexed in Google - it is probably the most vast resource to the game development universe.
- The Water Cooler Games Portal - This portal is recent find, and perhaps isn’t a portal at all. It a portal to discuss the social, political and educational use of computer games. This site will help you think outside the box and help you see the broader impact of how computer games effect your day to day life.
I am going to have a few more computer game programming posts in the future as well - hope you enjoy what I’ve found. I may comeback and update this post if I find anything else interesting.
originally posted here: http://zegarkus.com/2007/03/18/european-countries-that-allow-dual-citizenship/
Because I am currently going through the process the of dual citizenship between the two countries I have lived in I decided to do a quick investigation of countries in Europe that allow for dual citizenship. Below is list of Countries from Europe that allow dual citizenship with the least of amount of stipulations. Most EU countries do not allow dual citizenship or have a long list of pre-requirements before allowing dual citizenship:
This will allow to you edit any web page, live! Its handy for making modifications, taking screenshots and sending to your designer.
However, you can create shortcut via firefox bookmark instead of copying and pasting:
- On anywebpage, click Ctl-D to bookmark the page
- Find that bookmark in your list, right click -> properties
- Give it a good name and description too
Recently a ‘new to me’ programming language called Lua piqued my attention. Its a lightweight scripting that is commonly embedded in other languages such C and C++ and also used for scripting. There are other applications for it as well, such as Lua CGI and Lua Server Pages, which can be used on webservers. Its also a favoured scripting language for the gaming industry.
Anyways, after downloading the latest standalone of lua (lua5.1.exe), I just wanted to run a very simple “Hello World”esque script - eg HelloWorld.lua from the Lua Standalone. I learned bits an pieces of Python from Idle Python Shell, so I thought I could call up scripts in a simple fashion this way.
The documentation seemed to indicate that I could run scripts the following way in the command line:
However, I kept getting this error:
> lua HelloWorld.lua
stdin:1: ‘=’ expected near ‘HelloWorld’
I couldn’t figure it out and I couldn’t find anything how to call up a .lua script through google. Needless to say, I didn’t feel very intelligent. Oh I tried a whole slough of different searches on google and precursory glances at the documention. Here is the progression of google search terms I used:
- lua tutorials
- beginners lua tutorial
- lua for beginners
- lua programming beginners tutorials run script
- how to run a .lua files
- how to run my first lua script
- lua hello world
- lua standalone tutorial
- how to run lua scripts
- how to run a .lua files from cmd line
- how to run a .lua files from command line
- lua environmental variables
- complete noob looking to run lua from lua5.1.exe
- going out of my mind looking for a way to run lua through command prompt
- how the fuck do you run lua from standalone!%@#$@#!!!!
Though I found some great tutorials - I found no answers!
Finally, after 1 hour, I opened up the Caller.lua file which was in the root directory of my luaedit IDE, and there was this interesting line:
This incidentally pointed to Function.lua file in the root directory. Bingo! I quickly looked up the dofile function in the manual:
Opens the named file and executes its contents as a Lua chunk. When called without arguments, dofile executes the contents of the standard input (stdin). Returns any value returned by the chunk. In case of errors, dofile propagates the error to its caller (that is, it does not run in protected mode).
So I ran it, it worked!:
The World has ceased waiting for you. Please be more prompt in find ways to run
Lua from the command line
Yep its all documented. My guess is that Lua developers don’t generally run scripts this way? The documentation suggests $ lua -e’a=1′ -e ‘print(a)’ script.lua as a way of running scripts, but I can’t seem to get it to work (yet).
Anyways, I look forward to learning cool stuff about Lua!
Update 18.Feb.2007 ——————–
I have found three of running LUA scripts: LuaEdit, Lua Interpreter (same as above) and windows command line (cmd.exe). You can visit this Lua forum thread to see how its done, or just read here:
To view the output of a lua script with Lua Edit:
- Go to the view menu
- Select ‘Debug Windows’ and then “Lua output”
- You can dock as you prefer
To run it from windows to command line (cmd.exe):
- go to the directory where lua5.1.exe is located
- run your script with this command: Lua testfile.lua
- you can also add the your Lua folder as a windows system environmental variable
Recently there was a popular post in blogosphere about popular philosophical quotations. This made me ponder a bit about what quotations had the most effect on my on life. The two most important important quotes I can think of are “Know Thyself” and “Do What Thy Wilt”.
Know Thyself - This originates from the Greeks. How well do you really know yourself, are your thoughts based on your own ideals - or are they based on what others have dictated. Until you know yourself, you will not know what is best for yourself.
Do What Thou Wilt - This quote originates from the oft maligned Aleister Crowley. The premise is do whatever you want to! This may sound anarchic at first, but it stirs the spirit of individual. Don’t do what your parents feel is right, what the church dictates is right, what your politicians say is right - do what you want to.
Do what thou wilt is entangled deeply with Know Thyself. If you do not know know yourself, you can not do what you want to do. You will merely be imitating what society wants you to do. You have to know yourself deeply in order to do what you want to do. Know thyself is passive, it is the kernal of truth that is actively implemented by ‘Do what thy wilt’.
This is more of resource than an article but here are some links I have found on doing research on glossolalia - or what Christians call speaking in tongues. Normally, I would add commentary here but unfortunately time permits only to keep this post to a minimum.
This defines glossolalia and also gives some indication of some pre-christian origins of the practice. click here
Skeptics Point of View:
A disbeliever’s point of view of speaking in tongues that includes a short article about study of showing the brain functions of person who is ’speaking in tongues’ click here
Brain Function of those who speak in tongues:
These are the direct articles about the the brain function of persons who speak in tongues. click here and here
Science Point of View
This includes another scientific study that suggest (but does not conclude) that glossolalia is a learned phenomenon. click here
A Survey of Glossolalia and Related Phenomena in Non-Christian Religions
A book by L. Carlyle May that discusses Glossolalia outside of Christianity. click here
Psychology of speaking in tongues
This is a brief excerpt from a book by Julian Jayne “The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind”. From google books - click here
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone elses opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
Oscar Wilde Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 - 1900)
This short little post is basically a reflection of the past year for me, which has been stunningly successful in nearly all aspects of my life. Here are three reasons for my success this year.
- The Law of Attraction. As Descartes said, “I think therefore I am”. But more importantly its how you think. Learn about the Law of Attraction and how it can change your life (usually dramically!)
- Don’t think passively. Think passionately! The quote above from Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite quotes precisely because most people take what they hear and accept it. Challenge your thoughts, research and find your own truth instead of living by someone else’s! Question everything sacred or mundane to find your own Veritas.
- Change your environment to suite your truth. When I was lad in school, I remember reading a haiku that said something like “Water takes the shape of the gourd that it is in” - simply meaning water has no shape, so it takes the shape of the its container (in this case a gourd). What this means is that our environment has a great deal of influence in transforming who we are. Instead of passively allowing this to happen, change your environment to fit your own goals and dreams.
This my reflection one of the most powerful photographs of this century - ‘The Falling Man’ by Richard Drew. If you want know the background of this photo - please see the movie 9/11 The Falling Man. It is gripping story of the power of a single photograph. While most will talk about personal story about the photograph, I will attempt to discuss some of the elements that make this photo especially powerful.
This photograph - was published in a completely different crop from the originally version: here are both versions:
Vertical Crop as released by the press:
Horizontal Crop as originally taken:
Note that horizontal crop - is not available yet doing google searches. I took this screenshot from the DVD.
As you can see, just buy changing the crop dramatically change scope the picture. The vertical crop zooms in the subject - it at once becomes more personal. Here are few thoughts about the vertical crop that come into mind.
- Its personal - we can almost make out who the person is
- Centered- the man is nearly centered in the focus (off by a few pixels) - making the man an obvious focal point.
- Divided: The dark left panel and lighter right panel vertically split the image in half -giving it more impact and something that follows the more traditional rule of thirds (though the man is in the upper third). The two opposing colours come to head close to where the man is falling.
- Action - the black and white lines denote a strong sense of vertical movement.
- The vertical shot - from printing point of view, vertical shots can fit into traditional magazine, newspapers and books better. Though I don’t think was the issue for cropping the photo this way, its certainly a fact to be considered.
The horizontal crop conveys a completely feeling:
- It is more removed and abstract - here the elements of the photograph lead to the falling man - it doesn’t have the ‘gut impact’ of the vertical crop, but its impact is much more subtle. I’ll go as far as saying that this photo would have dramatically less reaction if it was released instead. But do not mistake less reaction with less powerful here. In many respects, I think this portrayal is more power as discussed further below.
- Uncentered - Though the man is central - it is not as centered as the vertically crop. Here the focus is on the entire scene - not just the falling man.
- Suspension - where the above crop had strong vertical lines denoting movement, notice the semi-circle lighting to the right. There is more ’space’ around the falling man in horizontal shot to give it a sense of floating.
By cropping the image vertically - you increase the impact of the photograph. You bring immediacy to the subject matter. You punch the viewer in the proverbial gut. The original shot in a certain sense is more holistic. Here you have man who was probably around 180cm tall pitted against the backdrop of a massive tower which was approximately 415 metres high. What lose in immediacy you gain in perspective.
The ‘lines’ of the two crops are completely different and each powerful in their own way. The vertical lines give a sense of falling, but an even stronger aspect are the vertical lines. Notice in both crops there diagonal line that points directly to the head of the falling man.
The horizontal version has something the vertical crop doesn’t - curved lines. In the shot, there is almost half a spot light on the falling man. You can visualise this as a semi circle. These contrast to the straight vertical lines. This ’spot light’ softens the falling effect in my view and gives it more a floating, surreal feeling. It allows the eyes to meander over the entire photograph - taking in not just the falling man, but the entire building and the entire event that took place.
This is photograph by no means is easy subject matter. Like Eddie Adams or Frank Capra (in)famous war time images it provokes a multitude of different feelings. What struck me is how something as simple cropping the image elicited different emotions for me. Regardless of the crop - it is a timeless harrowing photo that is not easily forgotten.
The posture of the man is at once graceful. In actuality a series of the shots indicate that he had a twisted and contorted fall - yet in the photograph it looks almost blissful. The Photo was taken, as the famous French Henri Cartier-Bresson would have said, at the ‘Decisive Moment‘.
Personally, two archetypes come to mind when I look at the posture - the idea of superman diving from building and also the more obscure ‘hanged man’ tarot. Each of these images has powerful and possibly subliminal meanings.
No this isn’t a technical article about computer languages. This a article about your health if spend copious amounts of time behind the computer screen.
As a computer programmer, I get obsessed with details. I can spend long long hours in front of the computer trying to come up with solutions to problems or trying to create new programs. Lets face it - you know you should be taking breaks but unfortunately being behind the screen can be a bit too alluring.
I’ve tried many solutions to break up this time. I would try get up and walk at certain times of day. But these are easily forgotten. I’ve tried to set alarms- but there is nothing worse when you are in the middle of problem and you get jarred by alert on your computer tell you sod off the computer.
Upon chance an incredibly simple, effective solution. Its drinking large quantity of water:
- Water keeps you hydrated - programmers tend to drink heaps of caffeinated beverages that dehydrate you thoroughly. Water helps keep this in check.
- What goes in, must come out. Yeppers - you are looking to take a break from behind that screen, nothing works better than nature’s call. If you drink alot of water, you are usually your own body to encourage you to take a break - not some artificial outside reminder!
Keeping a jug of water on your desk is best. Just fill it up at the water cooler at work. Seeing it close by is good reminder to keep hydrated. When you have to go to the loo it forces you to take a much need break from the screen!
This is about about hair. Most of my life I’ve had thick curly hair. It was fine until I turned into a teenager and all of a sudden it became dry brittle and unmanageable. Because of this, I wore my hair very short until recently.
When I was a kid, my grandmother used to wash my hair with a mixture of vinegar and shampoo. Before she retired, her profession was that of a hairdresser. When I became older (probably the time girls starting coming into my life) I switched. Mainly because I thought what does this arcane tincture of shampoo vinegar have to do with modern hair care. Because all the advertisements I saw on television to me to take care of my hair using their ’scientifically formulated’ product, I thought what my grandmother taught me was just an old wives tale.So
I tried heaps of different shampoos. My hair, which I wore slightly long became extremely unmanageable. It was dry and stuck out all over the place. It was extremely wild and unkempt looking - no matter how much I combed it. I used conditioners to no avail. Different products like gels only made things look worse. So I just cropped my hair very short. And that was the way that I wore for nearly 18 years. Sometimes I would try to grow my hair long again, but with the same situation - totally unmanageable - and ultimately - unhealthy hair. I damned my genetics and loathed myself because of my god awful hair.
About 1 year I decided to grow it long again. I always wanted longer hair - so I decided to let it all grow out, Afro or not. Luckily - I could keep it under control with a special hair product cream and I found a really good hairstylist. I was still a bit of pain because it was a lot of work (I am a bloke - I got other things to do besides trying to do up my hair!).
About 1 month ago - came across this article called the “great shampoo scandal“. In it, it talks about the detriments of using shampoo for your hair. In a nutshell it said that shampoo was detergent, though it clean your hair, it damaged it by stripping everything else out as well (oils, nutrients). I read it over and over, it made a lot sense to me. I feel that those with thick curly hair such as mine probably have the most to lose from this - I can say from my own experience in trying to choose a hairstyle, haircut. The only style that I could manage was short. And because I have a narrow, thin face - this style did not suit me well.
What was great about this article - is that it had a solution - what to use instead of shampoo. That was just plain old soap or a mixture of shampoo vinegar among other things. So of course I immediately started to put this plan into action. The results - about 1 week into trying regular soap, my hair became extremely manage and healthy looking. It was the first time I could remember actually be able to wear it in different styles. It didn’t lose the curliness, but the curls became more manageable and wavy instead of extremely wild.
Looking back, it turns out that my grandmother was right all along. So much for scientifically formulated hair care*!
*note - if am not knocking scientific research - merely suggesting that you do research yourself and pragmatically find what works best. Keep an open mind to all solutions!
I seldom leave my guitar in a regular tuning anymore. This tuning came about when I was in music school I developed tendonitus in my hands from overplaying classical guitar it was a very low tuning so it was very soft to play. It also found it to have a very haunting sound.
Here is the tuning:
|6th String||5th String||4th String||3rd String||2nd String||1st string|
|Zegarkus||D b||F||C||E b||G||C|
Now this looks quite unusual, but you will found that you can play the open strings as bass (Db, F) and melodies on highers (G, C) as well as some interesting chordal combinations on the center strings (C , Eb ).
If you have tried this tuning, I would be interested in hearing your comments.
This is my first with purely electronic music. I downloaded a fruity loops demo to create my own music. This needs a major remix, it sounds quite poor. I was going to do more work on it but my hard drive crashed and I was unable to to recover the original files.
This song was composed of bits of music that I had in my head for several years. When I fell in love with a girl about 7 years ago, all the musical bits came together. The original title was the name of the girl - but since we are no longer together - I changed it to ‘GoodBye Love’ :D
This is one of my first recordings that I have ever done. Though its very ameteurish I am still quite proud of it! Enjoy the clip attached below:
One of the most satifying self help experiments that I have done this year is create a timeline of my life. Though I have only have done this recently, I had the idea of doing this since my early twenties (I am currently 31 at the time of this post).
Upon constructing my timeline, i’ve noticed three immediate benefits: recognising acheivements in your life, recognising patterns in your life and a creating a sense of purpose for the future.
The instant gratification of putting up a timeline for your life is to recognise achievements in your life. Big events like graduation, losing my virginity, learning the guitar, programming, the first job, and travelling overseas were certainly highlights in my life that I look back on as major events and achievements. The deeper you dig, the more you will find. This can be a major confidence booster!
Another great thing about timelines is that you can recognise patterns in your life. For instance on my timeline - I was able to map out times in my life when I was really depressed and in rut. For me - most of these ‘funks’ came from a failed relationship and I got myself into cyclical series of events that kept me depressed. Conversely, you also find positive patterns in your life - times in your life where everything seemed to be going well. For instance, when I decided in December 2004 to change my life by becoming a positive person incredible things began to happen (to numerous to list here)!
Your timeline shouldn’t be just about your past - make it a living document! Write events in your time that you want make happen in the future. Use your timeline to make goals - write your own future with your time. This is the fun stuff - how will you manifest your future?
Here are few tips and tricks to get started with your timeline:
- Use excel. For a very simple timeline, you can use the column headers as years (see example below)
- If you don’t have excell, don’t worry - try google spreadsheets - its free!
- For a more feature riche timeline try dandelife timelines for free!
- Don’t expect to finish your timeline in one outing - take your time
- Don’t feel as if you have to remember the exact dates or times - I found that just noting the timeframe that happened is enough for me.
- You will found that some events will get shifted around from year to year as your memory improves (which is another benefit of creating your timeline!)
- Feel free to write down your general thoughts of timeframe. For instance, my 1994 year I have a general entry which says “Was very depressed” (conversely I have a 2006 entry that says “Great friggin year!). Don’t be afraid to add emotion to it.
- This is your timeline - don’t be afraid write your thoughts. You don’t have have to make it public. Sometimes old events are hard to bring up and face but this can be an excellent way of releasing old hurts and fears.
|met roger||went sailing for the first time!||met sanda and allan|
|pet dog died (14 years old - Rover)||finished photography course||lost 40 pounds|
|soccer team first in league!||broke up with anne||got fit!|
|Employee of the Month!||gained 10 pounds||Met and started dating Jackie|
Programming is something you learn by doing. And doing over it again. And over yet again. It is not something you can master in 21 days. Which brings me to my point - its can be very difficult to learn even if you have good books to teach you. Now this is not to say learning from examples is bad. I’ve pretty much self taught everything I know about programming through examples. The problem is that examples are the end result - you do not see the process it took to get there.
When I started to teach myself python programming, I saw immediately why learning programming via example is somewhat flawed. The example shown in the book is usually a perfect working model - but its quite deceptive; it doesn’t show the numerious revisions and blood sweat and tears the programmer has put into the code. Large chunks of code may have beend added, substracted, tweak, abused and optimised during for the final result.
When learning python, I decided to write a little game for battle ship with a command line script. A very simple script got more and more complex as I continued to build it. This is the stuff they seldom show you computer books. Whenever I made a revision I saved the script with a number after it. Here is an example of this process with the total lines of code* after each effort:
- bs.py lines of code: 88
- battleship.py. lines of code: 175
- battleship2.py. lines of code: 137
- battleship3.py. lines of code: 149
- battleship4.py. lines of code: 184
- battleship5.py. lines of code: 177
- battleship6.py. lines of code: 219
- battleship7.py. lines of code: 187
- battleship8.py. lines of code: 242
- battleship9.py. lines of code: 237
- battleship10.py. lines of code: 235
- battleship11.py. lines of code: 250
- battleship12.py. lines of code: 249
- battleship13.py. lines of code: 266
- battleship14.py. lines of code: 277
- battleship15.py. lines of code: 286
- battleship16.py. lines of code: 276
- battleship17.py. lines of code: 289
- battleship18.py. lines of code: 295
- battleship19.py. lines of code: 308
- battleship20.py. lines of code: 334
- battleship21.py. lines of code: 363
- battleship22.py. lines of code: 353
- battleship23.py. lines of code: 362
- battleship24.py. lines of code: 354
*I include all comments as lines of code here - though the lines might not do any actual work they keep me sane
As you can see the code grows, shrinks and grow again several times. You can examine the code by clicking on the hyperlinked filename. Don’t expect this to be world class code - hey I was learning python during this process! If a book (god forbid!) were to use my final script as an example, probably would not show evolutionary process of how I got there. This is just as important as the final product, you learn most of the real life stuff through this learning curve!
Sparks flew up into the midnight sky like lackadaisical meteors burning in the atmosphere before reaching the heavens. Ben rose and faded with them until his eyes caught a new spark that began its fateful journal skyward. A warm woolen blanket wrapped around him like a second skin. He felt polarized between the heat of this immense fire and the hostile cold of the Appalachian winter.
There was no one there but him, but he felt as if a universal audience was huddled around the blaze. He could feel all his hurt, all of his past transgressions rise up with the smoke. The old pine timbers burned briskly and fervently. Ben stared into the sky; the smoke distorted the firmament causing the stars to flicker and fade. Its warmth radiated unto his face and dried his eyes from any disease that might cause tears to flow. It was a good fire.
The timbers groaned and heaved for oxygen. Ben’s face was charred black. Only his incandescent corneas revealed that there was head situated on top of his body. The eyes mirrored the flames, recording every minutiae of the blaze. The core of him wanted to rewind, play and pause this moment forever.
The eastern wall of his house gave a concluding crack, howling like banshee amidst the ravenous flames. It toppled inward. My house will be ashes by morning, he briefly thought before being entranced by the flames again. It was just a house; it had ceased being a home a long time ago.
Ben gazed at the fire. He no longer felt the icy chill of February; he was now feeling the heat radiate from within. He watched the sparks float into the sky. He was the fire. He didn’t even hear the sirens wailing in the distance. The plastic petrol container began to warp before his boots. Sparks rose into to the sky like a meteor trying to return to the heavens.
150 hundred listless souls sat in a semi circular arrangement in C.P Lo’s Human Geography class. I was one of the souls sitting in the back trying to understand Lo’s thick Chinese accent. I immediately detected her on the second day of class. She sat down in the in the third row from the front, the seat on the aisle. She sat in a left-handed desk.
She was a vision I will never forget.
She was slender. She had long, wavy brown hair with a few gold strands that flared occasionally in the fluorescent lighting. Her green eyes were owl-like. Her skin seemed to glow a natural olive color. C.P. Lo’s Human geography class just became interesting
She intoxicated me. I saw the surroundings in black and white but her, I saw her in color. The rest of the class was frozen in time and only she moved. She would take notes. The movements of her pencil broke the stillness of the room. She seemed unreal.
Her name was Aimee Douglas. How I did know this? I could never bring myself to talk to her. When the attendance sheet was passed around I simply counted the signatures from where she sat to where I sat. I liked her signature. It seemed well balanced, unlike me.
I was too frightened and insecure to talk to her. If she ever did look behind her desk, I would quickly jerk my head down and start taking meaningless notes. I was a reticent, lonely spirit amidst over 30,000 students on the University of Georgia campus. Albeit from a distance of a few rows of desks, she seemed to make me feel less isolated.
A semester had passed; I was now in History 251, a class of over 300 students. This is where I saw her again. She sat far down in the front, in the left-handed desks. I always tried to make it early so I could have a seat next to her. But I nearest I could get was 3 rows back; I could never seem to get there early enough.
The history professor had a little game that he would play called “mad minutes”. During the middle of his Friday lecture, he would pause and ask a random, difficult question about American history. The class would have one minute to respond with the answer. The first person to get it right would have 5 points added to their next exam.
Students would raise their hands and spew out answers, but know one would ever get them right. About three weeks into the course, he raised a particularly difficult “mad minute” question. No one answered. No one even shouted a smart-ass remark. I meekly raised my hand in the far reaches of the auditorium.
“Yes, you there in the blue shirt with dark hair” he said pointing in my direction.
All eyes were upon me.
“Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze” I said. I was barely audible.
“I didn’t hear the answer, you are going to have shout it from that corner!”
“Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze!”
“Give the man his five points!”
The class clapped, a few even cheered.
My adrenal glands kicked in, I was euphoric. I remember the girl who sat next to me. She was smiling at me. The teaching assistant who was standing in the aisle also nodded in approval. I felt like a minor god in the great pantheon of existence.
I decided then that I would try to talk to Aimee.
When the class was over. I rushed down to follow her out. She was walking to the Tate student center.
“Hey aren’t in the American History pre-1865 class?”
“Yeah and you’re the guy who just got the mad minute question!”
She smiled. I can’t honestly remember what we talked about. But I felt lighter than air. If I didn’t have such a heavy book bag I am sure I would have floated away. I didn’t even ask for her number, but all that mattered was that we talked and she wasn’t repulsed by me. I was small but great triumph of my shorts twenty-one year lifespan. I said goodbye to her and caught the bus to my next class. My world changed in one mad minute.
That evening some mates and me where hanging around the campus coffee house. I was still feeling a bit high from the day’s events. We stayed up talking until late. I told them about Aimee and they teased me about it, but I didn’t care. My friend Chad suggested we go catch the midnight screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. So we walked down the student movie house to buy tickets.
There was a rough looking fellow wearing fatigues outside the theatre. The movie would start in about 10 minutes. We dug our pockets to get the money out. The rough fellow started talking to us. He had a deep southern accent. I was feeling quite chipper so I struck up a conversation with him, just to pass the time. My friends went in to get their seats; I said I would join them in a couple of minutes.
His name was Robert. He lived nearby and liked to visit the campus on his days off. I told him that it was nice talking him but I had better go in before the movie started.
He looked me straight in the eye and said, “If you were to die today, do you know if you would go heaven or hell?”
I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. “I don’t know, I never really thought about it”
“ I think we met tonight for a reason. A divine reason. God wants me to tell you about the blood of Jesus Christ which will save you and give you admission into Heaven.”
I shuffled my feet. “Umm, I-I really need to get going, Robert. I don’t want to the miss the movie…”
“I think your salvation is more important than a movie. Let me just pray for you here. After that you can be free to do what ever you wish”
I glanced around to see if anyone was looking. I thought to myself, what the hell, if he wants quick prayer, might as well let him to get him off my back.
“Listen, if you want to pray for me, hurry up because I want to catch my movie”
Robert glared at me. Then a vacant look set in his dark eyes. He then commenced. I felt a cold chill go through my body.
“In the name of Jesus, I release any evil spirits that reside in this lost soul. Please, Lord, help him see the light of your ways that he may find salvation through your blood. He is a lost sheep, please lord send your holy spirit down to live in his heart.”
He was tremendously loud. I was thankful that it was midnight and no one else was around. I closed eyes, then immediately opened them after I felt his hand on my forehead. I jerked back.
“Enter Holy Spirit, enter!”
I stepped back.
“Shandalay Kai Oshenta Fian Shandai Pori Kensai Morai “
He was now speaking in tongues.
“Esheti Moneto Keremte Amo Ferio Yuloli Handiola Fendi.
Shandalay Kai Shento Fenali Osorbus Ipsalay.
Shandu Wenayo Fortimois Finous Sho. Fani Vespi Ortel Ontani”
I wanted to leave, but I felt as if I were a deer entranced be the headlights of an oncoming semi truck. Somehow, I could not force myself to move. I was stunned.
“Fensharo Mo Hetikamo. Fenaris Urbi Koina”
I heard a clicking sound, it sounded like someone had hung up a phone. Robert had his eyes closed and his armed stretched out in my direction.
“Oh Jesus, Eshara Moken Halilli Ai Fendon”
I turned directly behind me to where the clicking sound originated. There stood a phone booth, only I did not notice there was anyone in it. From inside two green eyes where staring at me in disbelief. The streetlight reflected the strands of gold in her hair. Her mouth was slightly open. She recognized me. She looked frightened. Aimee looked very frightened.
“Holy Spirit Holy Spirit Shandayla Nepso Whaterosi Creso”
I felt blood rushing into my face; it was a bright red neon sign advertising my foolishness. I had to leave. Robert still held the same pose, eyes closed and right arm stretched out toward me.
“Lord, God Holy Spirit, Shodalo Hebris Motoa Antoari”
So I ran. I ran out the movie courtyard, past the lecture halls to end of the campus and nearly collapsed from exhaustion on the edge of lawn. I stumbled through the darkness and leaned against a large oak tree. I inhaled deeply.
In hindsight, I really do not think I was running away from Robert, I was running from Aimee. I’ll never forget the way she looked at me, so terrified. Perhaps it wasn’t even Aimee, maybe I was running from myself. It seemed as if I had been standing outside that theatre for hours. I looked at my watch. It was 12:03 AM. Only a few minutes had elapsed. A few mad minutes.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
print_r() is a handy function to print items in array to your screen. Its a great way to test and make sure your arrays have all the information they need. However its display can get quite messy if you have mulit-dimensional arrays. For example:
The output would look like this:
It shows all the information, however its bit difficult to see what is going on in there, all the arrays are lumped together. A better way of displaying the data would be to add some old school HTML tags such as the pre tags:
Now the out put looks like this:
This is alot easier to read as it stacks the arrays nicely. Finally you just chuck it into a handy function. I use this function to test data, check for errors and much more:
“You ask me what is, at the present time, the great obstacle to human progress. I answer you in one word: NOISE.”
Aleister Crowley - Magick without Tears, Chapter XIV
At night there were no wailing sirens, shouting matches, blasting horns or bustling commotion. In fact it was pitch silent. And because of that my friend had insomnia for nearly month. How could this be? My friend had just moved from downtown New York to a small town in the rural American south. He had grown so accustomed to the noise that he couldn’t sleep without it.
However noise comes in other forms than unwanted sounds. TV, Celebrity Gossip, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Dating, Sports, Video Games, Blogging, Cyberspace, Gadgets, Sex, Violence, Terrorism, Spam, Entertainment all can be forms of noise.
So what is noise? Noise as defined by dictionary.com is “extraneous, irrelevant, or meaningless facts, information, statistics, etc“. This makes noise quite prevelent in today’s information age. This article will discuss the appeal of noise, how does it affect us and what can we do to have less noise in our lives.
What is the appeal of noise?
Noise offers us escapism; it placates us. Most programs radio and television become pacifiers for us and do not challenge our intellect. It readily satifies an itch that we need to scratch but often goes no further.
We plugin our minds to the great information socket and tune out. Nevermind that most of the feedback we receive is irrevelent. How many commericials do you really need in your life anyway?
How noise affects us.
Cardiovascular stress, weakened vision, confusion, impaired judgement and generally rudeness are all symptions of of what has been referred to as “information fatigue syndrome“. However there are more subtle but equally serious conquences for too much noise intake.
“Answer rich but question poor” is how Baroness Susan Greenfield describes our relationship with the information age. We get bombarded with information and facts, but we spend little time evaluting and questioning what is important. All too often we passively digest information and do not seperate the wheat from the chaffe. These distractions keep us from evaluting our life and can impede our spiritual growth.
Below is an excerpt from the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis - it tells how an elder demon distracts human from questioning an insight he has recieved. Although CS Lewis writes from a Christian perspective (Screwtape is a master demon referring to God as the “the Enemy”) it aptly shows how noise can distract us from important matters in life:
…you don’t realise how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary. I once had a patient, a sound atheist… One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way…. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch. The Enemy presumably made the counter-suggestion (you know how one can never quite overhear what He says to them?) that this was more important than lunch. At least I think that must have been His line for when I said ‘Quite. In fact much too important to tackle at the end of a morning,’ the patient brightened up considerably; and by the time I had added ‘Much better come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind,’ he was already half way to the door. Once he was in the street the battle was won. I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man’s head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of ‘real life’ (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all ‘that sort of thing’ just couldn’t be true…
Here the subject starting to think important thoughts about his life - but were soon drowned out by the noises of everyday life. His important thoughts are soon forgotten.\
I find this a an accurate description of what usually happens when we begin to uncover important truths in our lives. If we are not careful to evaluate these thoughts as they arrive, distractions can cloud their importance and eventually we forget that we ever had those thoughts.
How can we deal with noise?
Below are some personal steps I’ve taken to reduce noise intake from my life. Perhaps they can help you as well:
- Reduce passive information intake: What do I mean by this? This means control any media that you can not actively interact with. This is primary television and radio, and to a much lesser degree, the internet. Although you have the power of the remote control, how often do switch off we there is nothing good being presented? You have no control over the output. Also, all to often we take in what is being said as truth. We don’t question it. We passively involved in our information intake with these mediums and unfortunately most of this is noise.
- Spend less time with ‘noisy’ people: and conversely, spend more time with people who have a more meaningful outlook on life. Lets face it, on the surface noisy people seem alot more fun: they have the latest gossip, have the best jokes and are alot more entertaining. Thats not to say ‘unnoisy’ people do not have these qualities - but they are usually not out try to seek your attention. Find like minded people
- Be Still! By being still, I mean making your mind still. Its always ‘Different strokes for different folks’. Some people can sit still and mediate immediately. Other people have to exercise vigorously before their mind calms. Other have to be in a natural environment. Find your own method of calming your mind. For me its a combination of the above.
Back to my friend from New York. He now loves his quiet place in the country, he couldn’t imagine living anywhere. He has visited friends and family back in the big city. However he doesn’t stay there too long these days. Its just too noisy for him.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I will move the domain to blogger soon.